When most people see entrepreneurs succeeding, they often think or remark something along the lines of, “Wow, that guy [or girl] really has it figured out. They just keep rising.”
While it may be true that the entrepreneur is doing a great job and operating at an advanced mental level, the mistake often made is that their rise has been smooth, either professionally or personally. Everybody knows that founders work incredibly hard, but so many are fooled that hard work and clever decision on their own are enough to succeed, over and over again.
In my limited experience, I’ve found that there’s a little more to this game than just smarts and laboriousness. After all, people need that to succeed at just about anything in life. In startup entrepreneurship however, there are a lot more unknown and difficult variables to contend with. These could include issues like market timing, tricky investor relations, co-founder politics, or managing a difficult cash runway. It may sound straightforward, but dealing with any of the above when pushed to extremes can feel like a life threatening situation, and raise a person’s stress levels to dizzying heights.
As such, “success” tends to show up when the founder has learned to continuously weather these variables and survive- while working hard and cleverly of course- until good things happen. That’s what people often refer to as “getting lucky”. Even founders, when speaking of their successes will make statements like, “I got lucky there”, or “That deal came out of nowhere”. Was it luck? Well, yes, to an extent. But in my view, if you stay in the game long enough you’re bound to get lucky at some point. That’s really what it’s all about- being tenacious enough to survive the difficult scenarios; again and again and again.
On the surface and to the outside world though, everything can seem hunky dory. Founders tend to hide their struggles, internalizing them and not wearing their hardships on their sleeves. When viewed in perspective, victories are unimaginably hard won at times, yet this is unseen by most. And therein lies the myth of smooth success.